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Dear Red Wing Republican Eagle: RE: Dennis Egan and Lynching…

7:33 pm in banality of evil by Phoenix Woman

Dear RWRE: Narrowly escaping this fate ≠ Choosing lobbying over the Mayor's office

There was a bit of controversy in southeastern Minnesota recently when it was discovered that Dennis Egan, the newly re-elected mayor of the City of Red Wing, had taken a job as a lobbyist for a recently-organized lobbying group backing frac sand mining. As Greater Minnesota chronicler Sally Jo Sorensen notes, this was such a boneheadedly unethical move that even the pro-mining Winona Daily News asked “What was he thinking?” (My guess is that he figured that, since his being a career lobbyist for firms with Republican ties, a lobbyist so dedicated to his trade that he started and ran his own lobbying firm, hadn’t apparently set off any alarm bells for the voters of Red Wing, he could get away with having as another boss an entity determined to turn the beautiful bluffs of Red Wing and environs into huge sand mining sites.)

Calls grew for Mayor Egan to choose between his frac sand lobbying gig and his mayoral job, and early this morning — a Saturday morning, no less — he made his choice known: He kept the frac sand lobbying gig and dumped his mayoral post, his resignation from the latter to occur by April 1.

But here’s the Bizarro World coda to this affair: The editorial staff of the hometown paper, the Red Wing Republican Eagle, put out an unbelievable piece of chutzpah mourning Egan’s resignation as mayor, going so far as to say this: “While we wish he’d had the wisdom and foresight not to become executive director of the new Minnesota Industrial Sand over until Council, he did, and the resulting debate over holding both posts escalated to the point of a near lynching.”

Ahem. A “near lynching”.

A “near lynching”.

To help clarify things for the Republican Eagle editorial staff, Sally Jo Sorensen links to the story of James Cameron, who in 1930 suffered a true near-lynching, when he along with two other black men accused of killing a white man and raping a white woman was severely beaten but whose life was spared by the lynch mob, which chose instead to hang his fellow inmates from a tree in the courthouse square. (The lynch mob in this case was being relatively merciful: They did not castrate the men, nor did they douse them with oil or kerosene and set them on fire as they hung, two common practices of lynch mobs. They did, however, break the arms of one victim when he tried to get the noose off his neck.)

So when a longtime lobbyist decides he wants to become one of the elected officials his clients pay him to lobby, and he’s called out on this when he signs up with a mining lobby that wants to gouge great big holes in the area’s biggest scenic jewel and tourist attraction, to the Red Wing Republican Eagle editorial staff that’s exactly the same as being beaten to a pulp, but narrowly escaping being hung by your neck from a tree — or being mutilated and/or burned while you hang.

Words fail me.

Big Pushback Against Frac Sand (and Lobbyist Mayor) in Minnesota

9:19 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Dennis Egan's Facebook page, as screenshot by Sally Jo Sorensen on February 5, 2013

The actual act of fracking isn’t the only controversial part of the fracking process. Mining the sand needed for fracking has its own problems, as Red Wing, Minnesota mayor and frac sand mining lobbyist Dennis Egan is discovering.

Many people were outraged at the gross conflict of interest embodied in Egan’s stances. But as Bluestem Prairie’s Sally Jo Sorensen noted, instead of immediately and publicly expressing their outrage, they quietly prepared for much more effective action:

As it turns out, the editorial board of the Rochester Post Bulletin aren’t the only ones calling for Egan to step down as lobbyist or resign as mayor. (Read the PB’s call at Our View: Red Wing mayor shouldn’t serve two masters).

Here’s the pdf we downloaded of the citizen’s complaints posted at the Red Wing City Council’s page. Since the city posted the 40-page document without redacting contact information, we’re not altering the file.

09F1 – Mayor’s Role MN Industrial Sand Council – CC 02-11-2013 

If Egan doesn’t step down from one post or the other, a recall effort will likely await him.

It’s not just the Rochester Post-Bulletin and the Red Wing City Council that are against Mayor-Lobbyist Egan over frac sand. The Ho-Chunk Nation, headquartered across the Mississippi River in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, is speaking out as well. And there are signs of greater official scrutiny as well.

(Fun fact: Egan may be the Mayor of Red Wing, Minnesota, but his Facebook page lists him as a resident of Saint Paul. Saint Paul is, of course, the state capital of Minnesota, and the place where a lobbyist would do much if not most of his or her lobbying in the state. How interesting.)